Ryan has little margin for error in Speaker vote

Republican lawmakers who voted against Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanIndiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Indiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Inside Biden's preparations for first debate MORE (R-Wis.) for Speaker aren’t saying whether they’ll vote for him in a new election next year.

Nine House Republicans rejected Ryan in the special election to replace Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerTed Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Ted Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Rep. Amash stokes talk of campaign against Trump MORE (R-Ohio) one year ago Saturday.

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Eight of them will have a chance to vote for Ryan again.

Rep. Dave Brat (Va.), one of the eight, said his public criticisms of Ryan have never been personal.

Like he did last year, Brat plans to present all leadership candidates five policy requests on things like trade, immigration and regular order. He’ll support those candidates who pledge to uphold those policies.

“Whoever signs off on those, I’ll vote yes,” Brat said.

Reps. Randy WeberRandall (Randy) Keith WeberCurrent, former lawmakers celebrate release of new book on Jack Brooks, 'The Meanest Man in Congress' House passes bill expressing support for NATO Texas governor, top lawmakers tell Trump not to use hurricane relief funds to build border wall MORE (Texas), Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoSecrecy behind Saudi nuclear talks infuriates Congress Congress can finally ensure horses are not tortured for ribbons and prizes Trump's decision on health care law puts spotlight on Mulvaney MORE (Fla.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertAnnual 'Will on the Hill' pokes fun at 2020 race Annual 'Will on the Hill' pokes fun at 2020 race Democrats, Republicans in Congress spar over state abortion laws MORE (Texas), Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarTrump administration signals support for uranium mining that could touch Grand Canyon Trump administration signals support for uranium mining that could touch Grand Canyon House conservatives want information on TSA policies for undocumented immigrants MORE (Ariz.), Walter Jones (N.C.), Bill Posey (Fla.) and Curt Clawson (Fla.) are the other Republicans who voted for Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) in last year’s vote.

Aides to Weber, Yoho and Massie said they did not know how their bosses would vote in the next Speaker’s election.

Spokespersons for Gohmert, Jones, Posey and Gosar did not respond to emails seeking comment, though Gosar has been openly critical of Ryan for working with Democrats to pass a stopgap government-funding bill.

“How’d that work out for John Boehner?” Gosar, a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, told The Hill in September.

Clawson is not running for reelection and will not have a vote.

Ryan is almost certain to face a tougher reelection fight after a tumultuous year in which he has publicly feuded with Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE, the Republican nominee for president.

Republicans will first hold closed-door leadership elections next month, where only a majority vote within the conference is needed for victory.

The more critical vote will come in January, a public roll call in which lawmakers will shout out the name of their choice for Speaker from the House floor. Ryan will need 218 votes for victory.

With the current 246-seat GOP majority, losing all eight votes isn’t such a big deal.

It would leave Ryan with 238 votes, 20 more than the threshold he needs.

But with Republicans widely expected to lose seats in the Nov. 8 election, Ryan is likely to have much less room for error.

With a 226-seat majority, for example, Ryan would be right at 218 if all eight Republicans vote against him.

Trump may add to Ryan’s problems.

The businessman has repeatedly criticized Ryan’s leadership and was stung after the Speaker said he would not longer defend Trump after a 2005 tape emerged in which the GOP nominee speaks lewdly about groping and kissing women.

Win or lose on Nov. 8, Trump could put pressure on House Republicans to oppose Ryan in a speakership contest.

The presence of Trump campaign chairman Steve Bannon is another factor.

As an executive with Breitbart news, Bannon has made it his mission to depose Ryan. He is unlikely to stop causing trouble for the Speaker after the election.

A big question mark is what the House Freedom Caucus decides to do. The conservative group, which is credited for pushing BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerTed Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Ted Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Rep. Amash stokes talk of campaign against Trump MORE out last year, endorsed Webster for Speaker last year. But after Ryan beat Webster in the closed-door, internal vote, most of the group’s leaders supported Ryan in the public floor vote.

Freedom leaders now are pressing Ryan to delay the House GOP leadership elections until after the lame-duck session. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and other conservatives say they want to see how Ryan handles a fiscal 2017 spending bill and other items after the election before voting to give him another two years. But there is no indication that Ryan plans to grant their request.

Other Freedom members, like Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), are still furious with Ryan for ditching Trump.

“I have not made up my mind how I’ll vote yet,” DesJarlais said. “It depends on who runs.”

So far, no viable candidate has stepped up to challenge Ryan in the Speaker’s race. Webster, the former Speaker of the Florida state House, indicated he probably wouldn’t run again for the top job on Capitol Hill.

“I don’t think the conference is interested in a principle-based, member-driven Congress,” Webster told The Hill on Wednesday.

Webster is one of a number of other lawmakers whose votes will be closely watched in the Speakership election.

The central Florida lawmaker said he’s focused “100 percent” on his congressional race and hasn’t yet thought of whether he’ll vote to give Ryan another two-year term.

Republican Jim Banks, who's the favorite to win an open House seat in Indiana, plans to join the Freedom Caucus but said backing Ryan is a no-brainer. The two recently campaigned together in the Hoosier State. 
 
"Yes, I plan to support Paul Ryan," Banks said. "He is the substantive leader our party and country needs right now."